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What can camping do to help self-absorbed young people?

In a past blog, I said that there are limits to what camping can do for self-absorbed young people who have never learned to give. A reader wrote me with this question: What would your response to the camping world be about how we create young people who know how to minister and give? Here’s …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

In a past blog, I said that
there are limits to what camping can do for self-absorbed young people who have
never learned to give. A reader wrote me
with this question: What would your response to the camping world be about how
we create young people who know how to minister and give? Here’s my answer:

Two of my kids are camp counselors this summer in Indiana (at a camp for poor, inner-city kids) and in Wisconsin (at a camp for rich, suburban ones). They’ve both had a good experience and seen the good that camp ministry can do. Based on that and on my own positive camp experience as a young person, I offer the following five points.

1. Acknowledge and stick to
what camping is great at: connecting
young people w/ God’s creation and the wonder of it, and challenging them to
grow in their faith (“palms up” ethic), some aspects of discipleship,
for starters.

2. Recognize what camping struggles
to do: give disciples the outreach focus
& experience which Jesus demonstrated – the ethic of touching and
ministering to the poor & needy.

3. Improve what camping does
well by studying those camps that are particularly adept at discipling &
replicate their best practices.

4. Partner with mission
organizations to give those you’ve discipled the ethic of the outstretched
hand. A number of large camping
ministries have sought AIM out to do this.

5.
Do camping overseas as AIM did in Bosnia this summer,
using camps as a ministry venue for children who have been victims of war or who cannot otherwise afford it.

Comment

  • Come on Seth, you can be more specific:

    Suggestion #1-” Stick to what you do well”: With your creativity, I would have expected five ways to improve connecting to God and Nature as well as defining the limits of discipling done in a one week program with no long term follow-up during the year.

    Suggesstion #2-“Recognize what camping struggles to do:” Christ did not just touch and minister, he also empowered the disenfranchised who were powerless. When we his disciples empower people the body grows exponentially because we create a reproductive disciple. Tell us how to go beyond touch and ministry effectively in camping to empowerment and reproductive disciples.

    Suggestion #3-“replicate their best practices:” In your opinion, who are the top five camps in discipling? Replication is necessary but not sufficient. How can you, or who do you know, who can help them create not replicate new models given their limitations. Many camps want to increase their effectiveness in discipling reproductive disciples but do not have good alternatives.

    Suggestion #4-“Partner with mission organizations:” I am confused. You want camping to partner with organizations based upon a 19th or early 20th century model of missions. Missions basically abandoned William Carey’s model in India as the Father of Modern Missions. Some missions observers believe that less than 20% of missions activities by 2025 will be based upon this traditional missions model of touching and ministering. If we expose 15 to 25 year olds to this model as the 21st century answer, are we doing them a disservice?

    In the first three centuries after Christ’s death, he sent apostolic teams not individual families who created diverse communities, merchants who built long term trust relationships along the Roman Roads, Christian women taken into slavery who nurtured and created a world-view within the next generation of leaders who dominated Israel (Moravian Model) and entire groups of persecuted Jews to new communities along the Roman Roads. Christ was very creative but many would say very radical.

    Do you have any 21st century missions organizations that camping should partner with to disciple young people into the models that will dominate the 21st century?

    For example, what are the five possible 21st century missions models that AIM is focusing on for the future, and how is AIM creating the support systems to help one or more of these models become a reality in the 21st century.

    Suggestion #5. “Use camps as a ministry venue for children who have been victims of war or who cannot otherwise afford it:” This is a great suggestion and consistent with your creative insights over the last several months. Thanks for stimulating us (me).

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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